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Manchester United's Alexis Sanchez has received the backing of his former manager.
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Wenger: Sanchez 'not a mercenary' for joining Manchester United
The Chilean’s decision to leave Arsenal has been defended by his former manager

ARSENAL BOSS ARSENE Wenger says Alexis Sanchez should not be considered a “mercenary” for opting to join Manchester United rather than renewing his contract at the Emirates Stadium.

Sanchez made the move to Old Trafford on Monday, with Henrikh Mkhitaryan switching the other way in a swap deal.

The Chilean is reported to be earning £350,000 a week at Old Trafford, vastly in excess of Arsenal’s top-earning players, having entered the last six months of his Gunners contract without penning fresh terms.

Wenger previously appeared to suggest Sanchez had moved for money, citing the forward’s desire to secure ”his last contract” and claiming he “cannot understand” why the 29-year-old wanted to leave Arsenal.

But the Frenchman appeared to row back on his comments when he spoke to the media on Tuesday ahead of his side’s League Cup semi-final second leg at home to Chelsea.

“Of course the financial aspect is important but he could combine both [by joining United],’ said Wenger.

“I think he’s going to a great club and he gets a great contract, so you can understand that a professional player can combine both aspects

“I ask you what is the difference between a professional and a mercenary? I wouldn’t say he is a mercenary.

“For me it is not a problem the money you pay. What is important is what you do once you have signed someone.

“If I sign for Arsenal tomorrow for one pound then my responsibility is exactly the same if I sign for £100million. I will give my best once I signed. I don’t care what the others make.”

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Mkhitaryan was unwanted at Old Trafford but the Armenia playmaker has been given a chance to revive a career that once thrived in the Bundesliga with Borussia Dortmund.

And Wenger confirmed Arsenal tried to buy Mkhitaryan before he made the move to Manchester United in 2016.

“I met him and we were close at the time but, in the end, it didn’t work,” Wenger said.

“You worry about how much it [not playing at United] has affected him but it’s a new chance for him and that’s what you want in life. With his quality, I’m sure that he will take it. I might have to analyse with him how it went [at United], what we can do, how can we help him?

“Personally, I see him first wide but I’m thinking as well that there is the possibility for him to play through the middle as a number 10, or even deeper.”

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